The Winter Meetings are in full swing in San Diego, and the Mets still have a lot they need to accomplish if they hope to be one of the top contenders for the NL East title in 2020.
As Brodie Van Wagenen prepares to wheel and deal, MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone dipped into his mailbag...
Nicholas Giordano (via Twitter): Is there a realistic scenario where the Mets can dump Jed Lowrie's or Jeurys Familia's contracts and still improve the team? I don't want to attach J.D. Davis/Dominic Smith to a trade just so we can dump salary.
Sadly, I think the only way Van Wagenen can move Lowrie and/or Familia and their full contracts is to either bring back an equally risky and bad contract or do what you don't want and include Davis and/or Smith.
You know I'm right, because you don't want to do it. Seriously, the reason you don't want to trade Davis or Smith is the same reason why the other team wants Davis or Smith. And it takes two to tango.
Steve (via Twitter): What would a package for Mookie Betts look like?
I've talked to a few front office people the past few days. One in the AL East, two others with teams looking for an outfielder like Betts, and I'm pretty convinced at this point that Betts will be on the Red Sox next April.
It would be huge for new GM Chaim Bloom to waltz into the job and have one of first moves being trading away a fan favorite who is the organization's best home grown talent in decades.
The other thing is, from what I can tell, the Sox are having a really, really difficult time getting an offer for Betts that will free up significant money and also bring back a player that can help them win in 2020. Betts is a free agent in less than a year and due roughly $30 million. That's a lot for any team to add to their roster, especially when the free agent market has yet to fully take shape.
In the end, I think Bloom and the Sox will find a home for Nathan Eovaldi and other reasonably priced veterans, keep Betts and (if they need to) look to trade him next July when they'll probably get the same return as they would today.
Jose (via Twitter): Any possible way the Mets can trade for Kris Bryant (if he is available)?
There's a path for Van Wagenen to bring in Bryant because the Mets have the pitching needed to do it, but it's a difficult deal to get done. For starters, no one yet knows if Bryant has one or two years left before reaching free agency. There's also a big split among evaluators on whether he should be valued as a third baseman, first baseman or left fielder. Lastly, I'm not 100 percent convinced the Cubs want to move him, at least not until his case is ruled on and his contract is more easily understood.
Similar to the Sox and Betts, I think the Cubs end up keeping Bryant, move other guys on their roster and then maybe deal Bryant next summer when everyone can better agree on his value.
Joyce (via e-mail): Like you, I think the Mets should sign Rick Porcello. If they don't get him, who do you think they'll bring in to replace Zack Wheeler? My vote is for Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Yes, Ryu would be the top option. He had a 2.32 ERA and tossed 182 innings for the NL West champion Dodgers in 2019. If he were to do this again, it's difficult to imagine the Mets having anything less than the best rotation in baseball. He's expected to get at least a three-year, $50 million deal, which -- I'm sorry to say -- may be more than Van Wagenen can spend on one player unless he's able to trade off some salary.
If not Porcello or Ryu, we'll likely see reports linking the Mets to Wade Miley, Ivan Nova, Gio Gonzalez, Julio Teheran, Tanner Roark and other third-tier pitchers.
Michael D (via e-mail): I see you're not attending the Winter Meetings. How do you get information from sources when you aren't actually there?
I've actually never attended the Winter Meetings, which is one of my big regrets.
That said, interestingly, it's actually easier now than it was as recently as five years ago. The first thing to understand is that most of my feel for things is rarely based on one or even two conversations, it's usually a general sense from having communicated with a variety of people during the previous few days. My goal when talking to sources is rarely to make news. Instead, my goal is to talk with enough people so I can better understand the motives and context around things being reported by other writers.
In the 15 years since I started MetsBlog, lots of people I knew when they were interns or even readers in high school have landed jobs with big league teams and moved up the ranks -- with a surprising number working in team front offices.
That said, these days, even the best-known writers in the lobby of the Winter Meetings hotel are mostly texting and e-mailing with sources located a few floors above them. There is very little face time, from what I've been told. This was not the case 10 years ago, and certainly not 20 years ago, when there would be more on background or off record scrums or end of day drinks at the bar.
Nowadays, teams back-channel text messages from room to room without having to leave their suite, which means there's even less of a chance that a team executive or insider can be stopped in the lobby by a discrete reporter looking for a tidbit to tweet.
So, to answer your question, I stay in touch by text message and occasional phone calls with friends in baseball (sources) that I trust, who trust me, and who I have known for a long time.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is a senior writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. His book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime.